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MLB Bullets is more than just a piece of metal

The Astros scandal won’t go away. Some actual positive spring training stories. And the Texas Rangers did a lot of flushing.

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Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Happy Wednesday, everyone. Once again, it’s my turn to fill in for Josh going MLB Bulleting, and if you think the Astros sign-stealing scandal is going to go away just because spring training games start this weekend... think again.

  • In a second news conference this week, this time in Arizona, Commissioner Rob Manfred apologized for calling the Commissioner’s Trophy a “piece of metal.” That is, if you consider this an apology:

“I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way, and I want to apologize for it,” Manfred said. “There’s no excuse for it. ... It was a mistake to say what I said.”

It’s more than just “a mistake.” It’s probably the single worst thing he’s said in his five-plus years as commissioner.

  • Evan Drellich points out the difficulty that the commissioner would have had in punishing Astros players, not just because of promises of immunity but because of federal labor law. (The Athletic subscription required)
  • Jeff Passan makes the same point about federal labor law (in an article that’s not behind a paywall) about federal labor law and also goes into an examination of the claims about José Altuve’s tattoo. (Can you believe we’re even talking about how a tattoo is or isn’t evidence? Baseball in the year 2020.)
  • Michael McCann focuses on how the scandal is dividing the Players Association. McCann, who is an attorney, also believes that MLB could get around federal labor law in punishing the players, although he kind of glosses over that point.
  • Ken Rosenthal reports that commissioner Rob Manfred regrets not attacking the problem of sign-stealing sooner. (The Athletic subscription required)
  • Ben Lindberg explains why the Astros’ sign-stealing is going to continue to dominate the headlines for the foreseeable future.
  • Craig Calcaterra writes a speech for commissioner Manfred to deliver that would be a big step in the right direction. This is excellent writing and would get Manfred some respect; of course, you’ll never hear these words from the Commissioner.
  • Craig also posts a letter from an angry and disappointed Astros fan.
  • Bill Shea spoke with public relations “crisis managers” about what the Astros are doing wrong. (The Athletic subscription required)
  • Buster Olney reports that several players are upset that MLB is protecting Astros players from retaliation. (A lot of this is “What if I accidentally hit an Astro? Is it going to be like the umpire had warned me already?”) Will the Astros break the MLB record for HBP in a season? In case you are wondering, the record is 103, set by the 2008 Indians. The Astros team record is 100, set in 1997. Craig Biggio, who had 34, had a lot to do with that.
  • Angels outfielder Mike Trout broke his silence and spoke out against the Astros and calls for the players to be punished. (And can you imagine what Mike Trout would hit if he knew what pitch was coming?)
  • Fabian Ardaya thinks it’s a huge deal that Mike Trout is finally speaking out about something other than the weather. He hopes that it’s a sign that Trout is ready to accept a leadership role in the game. (The Athletic subscription required)
  • Harry Lyles Jr. has some ways that fans can troll the Astros this season.

Believe it or not, there are other baseball things to discuss today!

Can you stand one more Astros story? This one’s fun.

And it just wouldn’t be MLB Bullets if I didn’t say: Today will be a better day than yesterday, Buster.